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Finances in campaign alliances

Last edited: January 03, 2012

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Campaign alliances are advised to establish a dedicated campaign secretariat based on agreed, written procedures, for financial and other administrative tasks. Control of the secretariat should be exercised by a board or steering structure, bringing together several alliance members who have decision-making authority.

Ideally, the secretariat should be established as a fully separate entity, with its own bank account and written procedures. Where this is not feasible, the secretariat is usually hosted within a member organization of the alliance. As a result, the host organization practically controls day-to-day management of income and expenses; and the campaign secretariat needs to comply with broader financial procedures within the host organization. Existing procedures must be reviewed, adjusted as needed and explicitly agreed on so as to prevent unnecessary delays and conflicts.

Where campaign funds are held in the accounts of one alliance member, who disburses funds to other alliance members for their part in the campaign activities, several levels of accountability must exist. Each alliance member must be accountable to the campaign secretariat for the funds and other resources it receives from the secretariat; the secretariat must present accounts to its host organization and the campaign board, management team or steering committee; the host organization of the secretariat must report to the donors. In addition, all these different levels are morally accountable to those whose lives they intend to improve with the campaign.

To prevent confusion, leakage or misappropriation of funds, written agreements and procedures taking into account these different levels of accountability must be established and shared with everyone who handles campaign resources. Financial control must happen on all these levels, at appropriate intervals: for example, alliance members present monthly consolidations of their accounts and original receipts to the secretariat; the secretariat prepares consolidated quarterly reports to campaign management and the host organization; the host organization presents consolidated semi-annual reports to donors.

Campaign alliances who are not experienced with multi-layer accountability structures should seek advice from an accounting or auditing company, or consult with other groups working with such complex structures, e.g. micro-finance organizations.

See also The art of collaboration in alliances for ways of working together on a campaign.